Experts respond: Australia’s draft carbon reduction legislation

The Australian Science Media Centre rounded up comment from scientists on the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme exposure draft legislation released yesterday.

The draft legislation can be downloaded here.

Professor Barry Brook is the Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change at the University of Adelaide.

“There has been a lot of recent debate about the relative merits of a simple carbon tax, versus the more complex cap-and-trade system represented by the CPRS. Although I favour a fossil fuel tax at the oil-gas well head and coal mine gate, with dividends returned in full to the public, there is nothing inherently wrong with a cap-and-trade scheme. The two most obvious problems with the CPRS version of a cap-and-trade, as presented in this legislation, is: (i) the proposed cap for 2020 is too weak, and (ii) free permits are being handed to heavy polluters. Minor problems, like its exclusion of voluntary emissions reductions beyond those represented by the national cap, would be basically a non-issue if the 2020 cap was tighter and more aligned to the actions required to minimise climate change impacts and rapidly decarbonise our energy supply. Parliamentary debate should focus on redefining the percentage reduction in Australia’s emissions by 2020 and in removing perverse subsidies to major greenhouse gas emitters.”

Dr Richard Denniss is Executive Director of the Australia Institute.

“The government continues to ignore science and focus on politics in setting its emission reduction targets

The Government has finally come clean that no matter how hard households or state governments work to reduce their emissions, Australia’s overall emissions will not go below the target the Government sets.

The Government has admitted that the target range is locked in – whether it’s 5 or 15% – regardless of voluntary actions, it will not change.

This is effectively the Government saying it’s happy to disempower those citizens who actually want to ‘do their bit’ by rendering their contribution meaningless in the overall reduction of emissions.

While Minister Wong may claim that the legislation gives her the capacity to take voluntary actions into account, the devil is in the detail, if you look at the wording of the legislation there is no obligation for her to do so. The legislation says ‘may’ not ‘must’.”